Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sensitivity & Parenting Styles

I've been having a hard time policing my thoughts of late. Increased stress and anxiety has increased my worry and rumination. Rehashing social interactions is a common worry magnet for me and any conflict that involves my family is a common pitfall as well.

The fireside talk with my parents and hubby replays in my mind often. I remember them dismissing my concerns, telling me that I don't have to worry about my nephew, and summing up the conflict as a difference in parenting styles. Not only was it invalidating, it was sad and reinforced my concerns for my nephew.

I know that there are different parenting styles. I know that there are different styles of loving, communicating, and living. I understand that and I also believe that those different styles fall along a spectrum spanning from healthy to unhealthy.

I think that there is no firm line between healthy and abusive-it's subjective. What scarred me for life may have left someone else with a lasting, loving relationship with their family; maybe spurred them on to great achievements and success. I was not so lucky. I don't think my nephew will be so lucky. Maybe things will change directions for him (I hope they do) in the meantime, I do not thing my opinions are unfounded or simply "differences in parenting styles."


BB enjoys accessories! Including random
barrettes found in the hair salon toy box.


All that has been rattling around in my head and heart. I've also been questioning how I parent and what type of parent I am. I've thought about this all before, it's just more nagging lately. Months and months ago, I had decided it was one of those "life's mysteries" that can't quite ever be completely explained and decided to stop worrying about it. Lately, my parents' words have burrowed under my skin.

Am I too sensitive? Am I too "easy" on Baby Bananaface? Should I be more strict? Should I be drilling him on words and shapes? Should I draw a line when it comes to neatly eating instead of letting BB "get all up in it?" Do I come off "hippie dippy" or "laissez-faire?" Is he gonna turn out to be overly sensitive and unmotivated?


Let BB have a cakepop the other day and
rocked his world! Use change (like that nickle)
to distract him and keep him focused while
out and about :o)

I don't think so.

Being around my family has shaken my footing. I think the hubster and I have made specific parenting choices that are quite different from my family's. So what kind of parent am I? What's my style?

I'm patient. I'm kind. I am gentle whenever possible and firm when necessary. I give BB room to explore. I am strict when he needs to be reined in. I distract instead of discipline whenever I can. I try very hard to not take my frustration out on him. I try very hard to stay in the now. Often, I let him lead. Sometimes, I show him the way.

I don't know how he'll turn out. I know he'll have struggles. I know I'm not perfect. Every child is different and what (I think) works for him may not work for others. I think I strike a balance between what he needs and what I can give. I didn't gain a lot of self-assurance from my childhood and I want to try and give that to BB. I'm trying to do that the best way I know how.


Another outfit BB put together himself.
I don't put much effort in "styling"  him myself.

What kind of parent am I? What's my style?

I'm a good parent. I'm loving. I'm sensitive. I'm dedicated.

My style is VERY different from my family!


So that's a peep into some of my pondering of late :o)

Monday, July 17, 2017

Where we're at... (with random pics)

Hasn't been a bed of roses, not that that'll surprise any of ya! It hasn't been disaster either, so that's good.

This past weekend my parents, the hubster, and I had a "fireside chat" about the CPS drama. It was stressful for me although I did pretty well overall. I was able to express myself without stirring the pot too much and stand up for myself a little.

BB developin' his style

That said, I don't think they were interested in really hearing my point of view. They summed up the entire issue as a "difference in parenting styles," even after I'd said something about "we understand that, there's certain things that cross the line for us though." Didn't seem to land in their brains at all.

Same for any allusion to emotional abuse or trauma. My concerns for my nephew seemed to be dismissed as me being overly sensitive. My mother defended my sister by reminding us "BB used to be that age once" and "she's doing the best she can and I think she's doing a great job."

Well, hate to break it to ya Mom, "a great job" by your definition seems to mean a lifelong battle with mental illness, self worth, and negative coping habits. "A great job" seems to mean ignoring a child in need and supplementing emotional support and love with impulse buys and sweets. (A-I know she did what she could for us and I think I've mostly forgiven that aspect, it just pisses me off when she invalidates my feelings and opinions as an adult B-I think everyone has some issue from childhood, nobody is a perfect parent)

I like to assume that everyone is doing their best... and I'm not sure if my personal hurt is getting in the way of me being able to believe that this is the best my family can do or whether I still believe they can do better? I really think I'm giving up on that latter part.



Shaved ice w/ Daddy


Speaking to the hubs last night, I struggled to express my frustration and grief regarding my family. I'm fed up. I'm not willing to put myself and my family at risk to wait around for rare moments of encouragement or empathy. I'm not willing to bite my tongue and invalidate my opinions to avoid conflict. I've spent decades repressing my opinion, negating my existing, and letting others put me down while they desperately try to make themselves feel better... screw that.

My parents closed the fireside discussion with a mandate stating that I need to give my sister an apology. (Mind you, we had established during the discussion that neither myself or the hubby had called and that we thought it must've been my therapist concerned about the things I'd shared with her***)

So apologize for what?

The hubs told me later that it would be a political, meaningless apology. The parents seemed to think that I should say I'm sorry that she's had to go through this... which I could interpret as empathy. I will not, however, apologize in any way that implies guilt. The words "sorry" or "I apologize" ain't crossin' these lips. I'm not even sure how sorry I am that she's had to go through this... I want her to have a wake up call! I want her to think more about how she's mothering my nephew! That means distress, that means the friction of change, that means unpleasantness.


Hiking. He decided he was done
and hopped on the Momma Express!

Still messy. Still getting the cold shoulder. Still tense. I'm trying to refocus on my health and keeping busy with BB and away from the house as much as I can. The hubs is looking into housing options and we're planning a road trip first week of August as our summer vacation/getaway.

Feeling myself slipping and thinking those negative thoughts, having more and more unhealthy impulses, and living in fear instead of living in the now. Things have to change. Tryin' to dance with my family ain't working-I have to get my own rhythm back!


Feel like an over-emotional rebel expressing all these messy feelings... I think these tough transitions in life should feel uncomfortable and challenging, right? Especially for someone that doesn't have a lot of practice having an opinion? *shrug* *sigh* Doin' what I can!


***Did what we had to do, ya know?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Commercial Breaks

It would seem that this MTV special (AKA my sister's life) is ongoing and trying to script in my family.

We had a wonderful trip to visit my in-laws. Parks, visiting old friends, good food, and good talks. It was relaxing and rejuvenating. Maybe just not rejuvenating enough.

Our weekend was marred by confusing texts and snaps from my family. My sister and mom would snap happy, silly, goofy stuff that would make me feel like everything was simmering down and everyone was moving on. Then we'd get texts about "I talked to my lawyer friend..." or "I really need to know if you or [the hubster] had anything to do with this."

It's like the good times were just short commercial breaks from all the shit! Confusing and stressful!

At one point we were out to dinner with the hubby's sister and had a great, in-depth chat about the CPS system and how investigations work. She had worked at APS for a while and knows people in CPS so she was a great resource.

That chat calmed me down a bit and then more crap came down the tubes. Some more texts freaking me out and pissing the hubster off. He ended up calling my father and telling him, "this needs to stop, Hannah is not handling the stress of this well and hasn't been very good overall the last couple months and we need to make sure she stays safe."

Apparently they seemed to reach a reasonable place of understanding and the next time my sister texted us the hubby took over and told her to stop harassing his family which seemed to shut that down.

Still, I was really anxious about coming back from our mini-vacay. I expected the Ice Queen treatment from my sister, what I didn't expect was my anxiety presenting in an overly chatty, outgoing type of way that was really confusing for everyone...

The hubs kept telling me I needed to get it together and then things spiraled a bit. It was a bad night. Thankfully not suicidal although there were definitely a lot of self-harming urges. I ended up sobbing quite loudly into my pillows at one point because I was so frustrated with the whole kit-n-kaboodle: living here, my sister, my parents, my nephew, my family's well-being, the pets.... The dam broke.

The next evening my mother returned from her trip outta state. I was very anxious to see her and confused a bit by the mixed emotions I sensed during the initial "welcome back" conversation. She was giddy and sharing all her travel stories and then took a break to go do laundry or something. After she returned, the atmosphere became darker, stressful and she said something like, "Well, I know there was some action that went down here while I was gone and we're gonna be talking about that."

It felt ominous and threatening and my already heightened anxiety stepped up a few notches. Thankfully I didn't cry and was able to say something like, "I can't talk about that right now. My anxiety has been really bad the last week."

It feels like a witch hunt. I haven't felt entirely safe here anyways and now I feel like I'm constantly on guard.

I don't know how things will work out and I'm trying to avoid replaying possibilities over and over in my head. That said, I think I've come to realize that living around my family just isn't healthy for me and waiting around for them to become safe to be around isn't a safe choice. I don't know what things will look like in the future, it certainly doesn't look like we'll be living around this area for much longer.

I'm okay with that. I'm okay with distancing, I'm okay with building a life that works for the hubby, BB, and myself that might not involve my family. It will probably be tricky and emotionally rocky, I think it will be worth it though. I need to get back on that positive progress path and keep moving onward and upward. I don't want to be stalling out and backsliding and getting entrenched in childhood muck over and over...

I'm moving on. It's a big rope tying me to this baggage and I'm starting to saw away at it. Come what may.



***Whew. That felt pretty dramatic.... talking about my sister's life being an MTV special and I just felt like I was in "Pirates of the Caribbean!"